Friday, December 31, 2010

The Twelfth Day of Christmas Break

Quirkle

Today I had a nasty flashback to the Second Day of Christmas Break when my turkey that had been defrosting in the fridge was found defrosted, but sitting in a pool of turkey juice on the bottom shelf.  I'm not sure yet if that was worse than the Martinelli's spill. The turkey juices were more contained and so I didn't have to pull out the drawers of produce or throw out soaked loaves of bread as in the Martinelli's episode. But it was turkey juice. Eww.

I went to the mall to return some jeans, but exchanged them instead. I also did some Bath and Body Works sale shopping.  It was pretty cool and I spent under $10.

We did NOT go to the mountain today.  We will have to save that for another less crowded day.  I'm kind of sad, but kind of not. It would have been fun to play in the snow, but I would have been stressed about getting home in time to make all the food for tonight.

Which brings me to tonight.

We had a couple neighbors come over for appetizers and games. We played Quirkle and Set. The kids popped poppers and shouted Happy New Year at 9pm, along with the folks on the East Coast. Now it's 10pm and I've vacuumed up all the streamers and the kids are kind of sort of in bed.

The wind is blowing outside and it must be in the teens with the wind chill factor. We are warm and cozy and safe in our home. There are more leftovers in the fridge than I know what to do with, a turkey brining in the garage and there's a whole new year ahead.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Eleventh Day of Christmas Break


Robert and I went to the Columbia Employee Store today. I love the Columbia Employee Store. I'd like to marry the Columbia Employee Store. That's how in love I am. The clothes are awesome and the prices are more than 60% off retail. They have so much more than parkas, gloves, hats, ski wear, and athletic wear.  They have regular clothes and shoes too. Cute stuff.  It's enough to make me want to get a job for Columbia just so I can shop there every day.

So that was fun.

I wanted to take a picture of me in my new Frosty Forest parka (pictured above), but I had to run off to fencing with Ethan, which is where I am now.  I was going to wear my Frosty Forest parka tomorrow in the frosty forest of Mt. Hood, but it appears everyone in Oregon decided to go to Mt. Hood today and for the next two or three days. There is literally no parking and bumper to bumper traffic there and back. Not a fun prospect.

Plus I would be super stressed if we got back late for my New Year's Eve party. A party at my house. That I have to make food for. And stuff. So I don't want to get back late for that.

Also big news for today, Ethan purchased a bb gun. I blame Ralphie and A Christmas Story. But I bought the movie A Christmas Story, so I guess I am ultimately to blame. I don't have anything else to say about it. Except this: so much for my zero tolerance weapons policy. Although that kind of went out the window when we started collecting swords, cap guns and light sabers. And Christmas paper wrapping paper tubes.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Tenth Day of Christmas Break!


Today I have a teenager. But it's OK because he promised that he wouldn't get all angsty and sullen and closed-up and that he would never think his parents were lame. Whew!

He wants blueberry pie and steak for his birthday meal. I guess I'm going out to buy a flank steak, but wish we could just go to Outback and call it good. I have a fridge full of leftovers and a turkey that still needs to be made. So much food!

I took down the tree today and put away all the Christmas things. I love cleaning up and putting all the Christmas stuff away.  It feels so freeing.

It snowed today, but didn't really stick.  I don't think we will get any sledding days here in the valley which means we might have to drive up to the mountain on Friday. Ugh. It is supposed to snow off and on today and tonight.

Robert took the boys swimming. It is the first time in 10 days I've had the house to myself. I'm a little giddy with it. I love not going swimming.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Ninth Day of Christmas Break


We made our way back out to McMinnville almost a year to the day after we purchased a 1 year membership to the Evergreen Air and Space Museum. I guess I thought we'd visit more often. This year's trip was about a million times better than last year's trip, so that was a win.

We used Robert's new GPS to find a place to stop for lunch (Jack in the Box). I guess we will be canceling our "On-Star" membership. (Angela will be happy to know, as it was Angela who was our On-Star for many years).

I'm making enchiladas for dinner, but I need to run to the store for onions.  I don't want to run to the store for onions.  I want to stay inside because it's dark and wet and rainy outside. And a little cold. It's supposed to get colder and maybe snow. Which would be nice.

But I'm not holding my breath.

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Eighth Day of Christmas Break

Ah!  We are over the Christmas Break hump.  It's all downhill from here.  Robert, who is enjoying a very rare week off, may not feel the same way.  So be it.

Robert took the boys out shopping today to spend a little Christmas money.  Jonah bought another Lego set.  A Droid Tripod, if I remember correctly.  Isaac bought Pokemon cards and something called Mighty Beanz that he left on the kitchen table all day.

We had a Papa Murphy's pizza for lunch with root beer.

I read a book and took a nap.

The boys are playing Life now and it just went bad.  Very bad.  Isaac is learning that Life is not fair.

I'm proofreading the latest issue of Vancouver Family Magazine and deciding that 2011 needs to be the year I get serious about writing.  Very serious.

But this isn't a resolution.  Just a decision.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Seventh Day of Christmas Break


Jonah tried on all the Silly Bandz he got for Christmas all at once.  For about 5 minutes.

We cleaned up the Christmas presents around the tree and I found the missing present for Isaac. I can't wait to take the tree down and get back to normal!

I finally took the turkey out of the freezer, which I've been meaning to do for about a week.  Now all I need to do is figure out some awesome side dishes I will enjoy eating for 5-6 days along with leftover turkey.  Mmmm.  Can't wait.

It was my last Sunday of sleeping in for one year.  Our new church schedule begins next week and we will be starting at 9am.  Actually, we have to be there at 8:30 to set up chairs in the cultural hall for our oversized ward so we will really need to be on our toes on Sunday mornings.

We played the game of Life.  For me it was the first time ever.  It was almost as exhausting as real life.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

On The Sixth Day of Christmas Break

Meet Greenie, my new iPod Nano. It has a step counter and a stop watch! I can't wait until the temperature warms up enough for me to get back outside to exercise. In the mean time I plan to put Greenie to use listening to Stuff You Should Know podcasts while I clean house.

This morning was magical. I believe the true magic was that everyone seemed mostly happy with the present situation. Even though I lost one present (ironically the one I'd purchased with the money I didn't have from Great Grandma because I lost the check). I also forgot about another present until mid afternoon, but it has magically turned into a birthday present.

It was also magical because Robert liked the GPS I got for him and decided to keep it!

But the real magic will happen in the next 30 minutes if I am able to successfully feed my family after a messed up day of eating. We had a fabulous, big family meal around 1pm and stuffed our faces with treats around 3pm. Not really lunch, but not really dinner. Now it's 5:30 and everyone is kind of hungry, but kind of not. I want to prepare a dinner about as much as I want to sleep in a snow cave.

We did the cheese and cracker thing last night, so I guess it's going to be soup tonight. Better get right on that--the natives are getting restless.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 24, 2010

On the Fifth Day of Christmas Break

I made the boys wait until 9am to have Christmas cookies this morning, but I ate mine for breakfast.  And then I had a brownie and some caramel too.  I love Christmas goodies.

Ethan decided he wants a BB gun.  I don't know where he got this idea from.  He's started looking at guns and realized he has enough money saved to buy one himself.  All he has to do is convince his parents that having a BB gun in the house is a good idea.

Later we went to Burger King for lunch.  I asked the boys if they wanted to go to McDonald's and they said no.  Evidently McDonald's is offering "hope for foster kids" in every Happy Meal.  The boys said, "We want a toy, not hope."

We started a new tradition and enjoyed a Shepherd's Dinner for Christmas Eve dinner.  This consisted mostly of cheese and crackers, but we also had olives and some summer sausage.  We ate on blankets on the floor, picnic style (or Shepherd-style), watched Luke II and talked about the shepherds and how angels came to tell them of Christ's birth.  We had the lights low and the fire place on.  It was nice.


Finally, the boys opened their Christmas Eve presents: matching PJ's.  But this year there were robes made by mom and slippers (from LL Bean) as well.  Unfortunately Ethan's was a bit small.  He asked for a bigger one right away.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

On The Fourth Day of Christmas Break

We went to OMSI today, mostly to have fun, but also to work on Jonah's Science belt loop for Cub Scouts.  The boys started out in the chemistry lab doing resistance experiments with white crayon and water color paints.  They walked away as I tried to explain the scientific application of resistance.  "Dad's tools at Intel use resistance in some of the steps to make computer chips!" I shouted across the room.  They didn't care.


Later we tried to build a Catenary arch, but I was the only one tall enough to hold the sides and even though I have long arms, they just were not long enough to hold both sides at the same time.  


Jonah loved making this stop motion video and took over 100 pictures to make it.  The hand idea was all his and I love how it turned out.

When we got home we had hors d'oeuvres for lunch thanks to Ritz and EZ cheese.  (Thanks to Samurai Mom for the winning idea.  I'm definitely the most popular mom in the house right now.)


I frosted what felt like 2000 sugar cookies and put the finishing touches on the candy cane brownies for our neighbor goody plates while the kids watched A Christmas Story for the second time.  All I need to do now is put the plates together and have the kids deliver them. Then I can start working on dinner.  

Whew!

Only ten more days of Christmas break.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Third Day of Christmas Break


This morning all three boys and I had dentist appointments.  My kids love the dentist.  They get cookies and prizes and toothbrushes and floss for their cooperation.  They wish they could go more often than every six months.  They are all still 100% cavity free (knock on wood) which is due more to genes than stellar oral hygiene habits.  Yay genes!

I had a great check up too.  My nearly cavity free mouth is due to genes as well, but I also have pretty good oral hygiene habits.

After the dentist we went to the last place on earth I want to be at this time of year: Toys R Us.

I didn't expect all of us to make it out in once piece, let alone in ten minutes.  But we did.  I repeat, TEN MINUTES in and out of Toys R Us on December 22.  The only downside is Ethan knows what he's getting for his birthday.  I can live with that.

Later, Isaac retrieved the mail from the locked mailbox down the street and left my keys hanging from the lock all afternoon: house, 2 cars, and mailbox keys.  This will provide me with hours of "What If" fun.  Sigh.

Next up on day three's docket: sugar cookies.  I already went to the store once to replenish my supply of butter, but will need to return for more powdered sugar, corn syrup and plastic wrap.  I will definitely make more white chocolate covered pretzels.  They were scrumptious and did not last long enough to make it onto the neighbor goody plates.

Actually, I haven't really done the neighbor goody plates.  But that is only because I ran out of the white chocolate covered pretzels.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Second Day of Christmas Break

This morning I noticed the bottle of Martinelli's sparkling cider in the fridge was lying on it's side, without a lid, in an amber-colored puddle.  I then noticed that the produce in the drawers beneath it was damp and there was another amber-colored puddle on the floor.

Of course no one was responsible for this mess.  No one had had a drink of sparkling cider.  No one had put the bottle back into the fridge without the lid.  No one shut the door and walked away while sticky liquid dripped down onto the bottom two shelves of the fridge and eventually the kitchen floor.  No one.

No one was there when it was time to clean up.  I wiped up the fridge, cleaned out the produce drawers, replaced the paper towels, wiped the bottoms of the casserole dishes, threw out the ruined loaves of bread and mopped up the floor.  Then I changed the water and mopped the floor again.  Then I sprayed the floor with 409 and wiped it up with paper towels.

It still feels sticky.

I took the Martinelli's over to the sink, certain it was flat and began to pour what little was left in the bottle down the drain.  "What are you doing?" the boys said.  "You're going to waste it!"

Monday, December 20, 2010

The First Day of Christmas Break

On the first day of Christmas break we watched A Christmas Story.  Isaac doesn't like the movie.  He says it scares him. I don't know if it's Flip getting his tongue stuck to the flag pole, or the gruff dad who weaves a tapestry of obscenity while trying to fix the furnace, or the mean bully with yellow eyes, or the fact that poor Randy gets dressed up like a tick about to burst for the walk to school or the mouth full of Life Bouy Ralphie gets when he says the Queen Mother of all curse words.  It could be the tension between the mom and dad over the major prize:  The Leg Lamp.

At any rate, Isaac doesn't like the movie, so we are watching it while he sleeps in.

Sleeping in is another thing we did on this first day of Christmas break.

Later I'll get started on some Christmas treats.  Maybe some white chocolate covered pretzels, caramels, or English toffee.

I've also got to mail out the rest of the Christmas letters.

One day down, 13 more to go.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Jell-o Project: Glass Block Jell-o

It's festive! It's beautiful! It's tasty! It's the Fruit Stripe Gum of the Jell-o universe.

Just how tasty is this Glass Block Jell-o, you ask?

Jonah and Isaac both loved it. Isaac actually turned his sideways thumb to a full fledged "thumb's up" after I pretended to cry. A full thumb's up! And no, I don't think pretending to cry skews my results at all. Jonah even asked to have more of this tasty treat as an after school snack today.

Here's the thing. Two-fifths of the people in this house can not get past that white stuff surrounding the real Jell-o. It's opaque, it's solid, it's jiggly. It isn't fruity like Jell-o is supposed to be. Their small, small minds just can't seem to get past it. Two-fifths of the people in this house would not even try my lovely glass block Jell-o.

I don't care.

It's delicious.

More for me.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

On Consequences

We've had Wii for two years, and for two years I've nagged the kids to pick up the remotes and games and turn off the TV when they were done playing. Since I hate nagging, I would alternate between cleaning up myself and going to lengths to get the kids to do it. And I complained a lot.

Finally I decided that every time I picked up the Wii clutter, I would take one game and put it in time out until it was earned back. We have thirteen Wii games. Within two weeks, I had eight of them. I don't think anyone noticed until I'd confiscated about seven.

The kids are being much more careful about picking up after they play Wii. However, they have no desire to earn their games back. This weekend, the playroom was a disaster. I announced that any kid who helped to clean it could choose one Wii game to get back.

No one cleaned the playroom.

Whenever I suggest a way to earn back a game, the kids begin a round of accusations declaring that the other two were responsible for losing the games in the first place and that they are innocent victims of the game loss. Therefore, they should do nothing to help earn the games back. Fingers are pointed, accusations are made, arguments started, and names called.

They don't want their Wii games back as much as they want to be right.

Not one is willing to take responsibility for his actions.

As long as they focus only on themselves, they will never earn back a Wii game.

Some days I feel like I'm raising a bunch of politicians.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Jell-o Project: Return of the Jell-o Project

My abandoned Jell-o Project left a pantry full of Jell-o boxes as a sad reminder of my Jell-o failures. I'd pushed the many boxes to the back of the shelf to try and forget, but I knew they were there. Mocking me, calling, "nevermore" when I wondered if I'd ever make Jell-o again.

Today I found this recipe on Our Best Bites and knew the Jell-o Project had been reborn. It is, after all, the holiday season, Jell-o's annual coming-out: a time when Jell-o puts on its fanciest dress and presents itself to the world for wooing. Sigh.

Sorry. I've been reading too much Victorian fiction as of late.

The real story is I thought this recipe was the perfect way to use up some of the Jell-o that's taking up valuable pantry space in a non-Jell-o way. Plus, fruity popcorn just sounded like a fun treat. The kids would have to be certifiable not to like it.

Isaac gave me a "thumb sideways" which means he kind of likes it and kind of doesn't like it.

Jonah liked it, but said it was pretty sticky. He was the one, by the way, to choose the berry blue flavor.

Ethan kind of liked it and drank about a liter of water after having his sample size.

I sent a bag to the neighbors to get a second opinion.

I thought it was delicious.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Problem With The Box

I'm not a big fan of tradition. It has a tendency to become a burden. A self-inflicted burden. Why would I do something like that to myself? Still, I feel some responsibility to create happy memories for my children, so I'm attempting to start a tradition. I have it on good authority that this particular tradition creates a fabulous spirit in the home during December.

It has to do with a little wrapped box. When you find the box, you know that some sort of service has been done for you. It then becomes your turn to serve someone else in the family and pass the box on. Thus, the box gets passed around the family and service done every single day for an entire month.

When I explained the concept at Family Home Evening this week, the kids seemed excited. Of course I meant to have the box all ready to show them on Monday night, but I didn't. Starting traditions is so hard. I did have it ready to go by December 1st though. Isaac decided he would be the first to serve.

"What do I get for serving?" He asked.

"A good feeling," I said.

"Can we have a contest to see who does the most service?" He said.

"It's not a contest," I said. "You just have to serve someone to be nice. For Jesus," I said.

Isaac finally agreed and went up to his room to work on his deed. He came back downstairs a few minutes later with a big smile on his face. "Don't make your bed tomorrow, OK mom?"

"OK" I said.

So the box fell to me. But what could I do to serve my kids that I didn't already do? I already make the younger boy's beds. I do everyone's laundry. I put their things in their room when they leave them scattered around the house. I cook their meals. I put band aids on their boo boos, help them with their homework, read them books at night, return their library books, empty their trash, keep them well supplied with cookies. What else could I do that would be extra?

I imagined making Jonah's bed and leaving the box on the pillow. "What's this for?" I pictured him asking.

"I made your bed," I'd reply.

"So. That doesn't count. You make my bed every day anyway."

(Confession: Jonah sleeps on top of his bedspread with a blanket, so all I have to do to "make" his bed is fold the blanket.)

Traditions are so hard.

So I didn't do any service today. Today I didn't even do the stuff I regularly do. I didn't take the trash bins back from the curb and I didn't make beds. I made grilled cheese for dinner. I had to stop doing service, so I could do service.

Not that anyone noticed.

And tomorrow, when I make Jonah's bed for service, I fully expect to have the above conversation. This tradition may have failed before it even got started.

And that is the problem with the box.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

How to Be A Boy: Waiting in Line

Standing in line goes against two very important boy laws:

Law #1 - Thou shalt not hold still
Law #2 - Thou shalt not have order

Thankfully, there are a few ways to get around violating these boy laws when you are forced to stand in a line.

First of all, make sure you are standing in line for a good reason. Waiting to get prizes with your Chuck E. Cheese tickets, or waiting for your mom to buy you some ice cream, or waiting to ride the Looping Thunder roller coaster are all good reasons to be in a line. A check-out line at the grocery store, a line to check in a the doctor's office, or a line to get into a museum are all bad lines. Avoid these lines if you can.

If you must stand in a line, don't hold still. Move constantly. Hop on one foot, and then the other. See how long you can stand on one foot without falling over. Fall over into the stranger standing next to you. Fall over again, just for the fun of it. If the floor is dirty, see if you can spend as much time as possible on it.

If you have a brother with you in line, you are in luck. Try and lift your brother, even if he is 20 pounds heavier than you. Then have him lift you. Try giving each other piggy back rides. Bump into strangers standing next to you. Give your brother a noogie. He will try and give you a noogie. Try and give your brother a Wet Willy. He will jump back, right into the stranger standing next to you. Tackle your brother to the floor to give him a Wet Willy.

If you are unlucky enough to have your mother in line with you, she may try to separate the both of you by standing in between you. This will never work. Just reach around your mother to try and hit your brother. Pay no attention to the looks you are getting from strangers, or the exasperated look on your mother's face.

And when you ask your mother to take you to Target, or Oaks Park, or Burger King, or any place that has a line, act surprised when she flatly refuses.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Word Cloud

I've been working on a middle grade fiction. My WIP (work in progress) is called Blackberry Tree and writing has been both painful and wonderful. Overall, a good experience when I don't lay awake in the wee hours thinking about throwing the whole thing out and getting a job bagging groceries. Not that there's anything wrong with bagging groceries. It's just not writing middle grade fiction and I might be better at bagging groceries than at writing middle grade fiction.

I didn't realize it would come out so small. But if you click on it, it will take you to the bigger picture. Guess what the name of my main character is?

 Wordle: blackberry word cloud

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Bird Nerd

I realized at 2am as I lay awake in my bed, too cold to get out from under the covers, that I have turned into a bird nerd. This feeder is right outside my kitchen window so I get an up-close view of all the birds that come to eat. It's fun to watch them fight over the best position on the perch. Well, fun for me.

This is a House Finch that looked particularly pretty* against the backdrop of snow. I also have a few Black-capped Chickadees, and Dark-eyed Juncos visit the feeder every day.

This February, the Jackson Bottom Wetland is having a bird house contest. They're calling it the Tweet of Dreams. How clever is that? Anyway, I'm totally in. I'll get started on it right after the holidays. I'm sure the fact that I've never built a birdhouse before will not hinder me in the least.

*Just to make myself clear, I think the bird in the picture is pretty, not cute.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Not Cute

I love animals. Just not in my house. I don't mind animals in your house, as long as they are not sniffing me in really embarrassing places and don't leave my clothes covered in fur. Oh, and it would be great if they don't chew up my shoes that you asked me to leave by the front door.

Cute animal videos also don't hold my interest. If you've seen one sleeping kitten, you've seen them all. But cute animal videos apparently have a wide audience because there is no way to be on the Internet without being invited to watch one.

I always pass, thank you very much.

But today I clicked. The picture on Yahoo News showed a box of sleeping kittens and said something even more cute was underneath them. My interest was piqued. The link took me to a Purina website loaded with links to cute animal videos. It wasn't too late to get out, but I stayed. I had to know what was under the pile of sleeping kittens.

But the video didn't work.

I was a little offended. After all, I never click on these lame time-wasters and now I clicked. And Purina wouldn't show me the video. How dare you Purina! Offending me apparently wasn't enough. Now they had to humiliate me by making me refresh the page three times to try and get that cute animal video. And still, nothing.

I'm so mad at cute animals.

And I hate balloons too.

And Christmas is annoying.

And don't get me started on "The Royals."

If I haven't offended everyone yet, can someone tell me what was under that pile of sleeping kittens?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Blossom Handbag

I have a million things I should be doing, but I decided to make this purse.

It all started when I needed $1.43 extra to get free shipping on an order at Amazon, so I bought this book. When the book arrived, I wasn't blown away by any of the purses, but I had a hankering to go look at fabric and thought that if any particular fabric really called out to me, I'd buy it and make a purse.

At JoAnn's, no particular fabric called out to me. But I bought some fabric anyway. But I wasn't going to make the purse right away, because I had so much to do.

Then, one night, I put in a movie and decided to cut out the pieces for a purse. But I wasn't going to make it for a long time. Just cut. The cutting took 4 hours. There were a lot of things to cut.

I guess you know the end of the story. Two days later, and I have made the purse. I used up all kinds of time I needed to be doing other things, but it was fun. And now I have a cute purse. It doesn't necessarily look like my style and I'm still not crazy about the fabric, and that zippered pouch was a pain in the butt to make, but not as much of a pain as sewing it into the purse.

I feel like I need a new outfit to go with it.

And I already bought fabric for the next bag. But I'm not going to start that one for a while. I really have so much to do.

If you want the pattern for the bag, it's offered online for free. I sure wish I'd known that before I paid for the book!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Et Tu, Harry?

I read some sad, sad news on Monday. It seems the director of the latest Harry Potter movie has decided to push the limits of the "13" in the PG-13 rating for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1.

If you recall, in the book Harry, Ron and Hermione set off on their own to find the remaining horcruxes and destroy Voldemort once and for all. While they are camping in the woods, Ron comes under some kind of hallucinatory spell in which he sees Harry and Hermione kissing. This throws Ron into a fit of jealousy and he leaves.

Here is how the director saw that scene according to this article:

"Though they were partly clothed, the scene leaves the impression that Radcliffe and Watson are stripped naked. Both wore jeans, while Radcliffe went shirtless and Watson had the front of her torso covered, leaving her back and shoulders bare.

"'I didn't want to put them through complete nudity,' said director David Yates. 'I didn't think it was necessary, because we were going to put some smoke around them' for the scene, which Ron witnesses through a hallucinatory fog.

I wonder if director David Yates knows who will be seeing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1. Or should I say, who will NOT be seeing this movie now that they know about this scene.

Honestly! This is a kids book. I realize the plot has warped into Young Adult territory over Harry's seven years at Hogwarts, and that's absolutely fine. The Harry Potter series is an anomaly in that it appeals to readers from 5 to 105. But Harry Potter is first and foremost a kids book and the movie should be appropriate for kids to see. There are plenty of readers and fans who do not need to see Harry and Hermione in a naked kissing scene.

I'm a 41 year old married mom and I'm one of them. And my 12 year old son is definitely another. He's been looking forward to this movie since he finished reading the book and now I don't know how I can possibly take him to see it.

I might be in the minority with my position. And I haven't actually seen the scene, so perhaps I'm not the best judge. But the director's intentions seem clear according to the article: he wanted the viewers to believe both characters were naked. How is this not pornography?

And don't give me that business that it's a short 15 seconds out of a 120 minute movie. If there's a fly in your soup, you don't eat around it. You send it back!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

On Swearing

Last night we had the "swearing" talk.

See, my boys get big eyes and very worried looks when they hear me say things like this:

"Uncle Andrew is helping to fight the fire in California and just got stationed in Hell's Canyon."

Or, from the Bible, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned."

Or, from More Adventures of the Great Brain by John D. Fitzgerald, "Tom and I rode on the seat of the buckboard with Papa who was driving our team of Bess and Dick."

Maybe I should enjoy this time when even "shut-up" and "stupid" are bad words in their every-day vocabularies. Because I'm guessing that soon enough, those and far more offensive words will be added. But I had to let them know that the way a word is used is often more important than what the actual word is. Sometimes.

Any word spoken in anger or hate can be offensive. Whether it's "darn" or "sugar" or "barnacles." I've heard some pretty offensive flips and fetches, that in my mind were no different than if the queen-mother-of-all-swear-words itself had been uttered.

On the other side of the coin, there are many words that are considered swear words, that are perfectly fine when used the right way. And there is no need to giggle or worry that you are saying the wrong thing.

"How do we know when it's OK to say a word that might be a bad word?" The kids asked. "Can we just say whatever we want as long as we aren't mad?"

Hmmm. Not exactly. I told them that if they were talking about a structure built by Beavers, or a place in California that has been affected by fires, or reading the scriptures, or a story about a man or animal who's name is short for Richard, then it's perfectly fine to say the words that describe those things.

They seemed to get it.

I just better not hear them holding their tongues and trying to say "ship."

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Creativity on Demand

Some people are so demanding.

Some people demand I update my blog daily. And if I don't, they call me and leave threatening messages. Or write aggressive notes on my Facebook wall. Or leave flaming bags of poop on my front doorstep.

OK, that last one was a lie.

Still, you can't force a creative mind, right? I need to be inspired to write. One can't just expect my type of genius to be "on" all the time. First I have to wait for the kids to do something clever slash crazy slash annoying. Then I need some kind of original thought which will give that thing my own funny spin. Then I need to have time to sit down and write about it. And find the perfect picture on Google images to go with it. And edit it, and read it over and over, and change words here and there and consider posting a link on Facebook, or e-mailing demanding people and saying, "There! Are you happy now?"

It takes time. It can't be rushed. It can't be demanded.

Right?

Wrong!

One of my favorite authors, Cinda Williams Chima, has this quote on her website:

"Write every day. It is easier to keep a patient on life support than to resurrect the dead." Janet Fitch, author of White Oleander

I have read in many writing books (OK, the one writing book* I read) and heard from many writer's workshops (OK, the one workshop I attended), that this is true, true, true. You need to write everyday and not wait for inspiration to hit. Inspiration is far more likely to hit if you have a prepared receptacle in which to receive it. (That receptacle would be me, the prepared writer!)

Last month when I participated in the Game On! diet with friends, I put this theory to the test. My good habit goal was to write for 2 hours every day. I quickly realized that this was a big goal and worked hard to accomplish it so I didn't lose points for my team. I wished I'd made the goal one hour a day. But I didn't. I needed to write. About something. Anything.

And I did.

I wrote on my blog every day, (which is why some people got demanding when I stopped the daily updates). I worked on a young adult novel that's been sitting on my computer for a year and a middle grade novel that's been sitting on a 3 and a half inch disk for 3 years. I wrote articles and submitted them to magazines I'd never submitted to before. I didn't care if they published what I wrote; I just had to write to get my points.

And that "just do it" attitude was eye opening. I was writing more and writing better. Ideas were coming more freely to me. And my inner critic--the one who tells me I have no business sending in articles to real magazines--was summarily dismissed. (I attacked him like a ninja: it was quick, painless, and he never saw it coming!)

I am sorry to say that I have not kept up on my goal after finishing the Game On! diet. I need to get that daily writing goal back and keep up the momentum. Because yesterday, after Ethan brought in the mail and opened it, he said, "Mom, someone wants to publish something you wrote."

I grabbed the letter out of his hands from the editors of The New Era magazine. Something I wrote, to fulfill my quota and earn my diet points, and that I submitted because I didn't care that I had no business doing it, had been accepted for possible publication.

Possible. Publication.

YES!

Does this mean I'm going to update my blog every day? Probably not.

But will I write every day? I think I have to.

Writer Peter DeVries said, "I only write when I'm inspired, and I make sure I'm inspired every morning at 9am."

*I just remembered. I also read this book, which then necessitated the reading of this one.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Learning to Walk

It's only taken 41 years, but I've finally come to terms with my height. I'm 5'10" and not afraid to show it. No more slouching to try and fit in with a group of average height friends. No more complaining about having to pay extra for "tall" sized clothing, and no more shunning high heels. (OK, I'll probably still complain about paying extra for clothes. Sorry)

Today my first high heels came in the mail. Actually, I should say the first high heels of my adult life, because there was that sadly misguided pair of knock-off Cherokee wedge sandals I wore in 6th grade. I thought I was being conservative on the heel height of my new shoes (pictured above). After all, if you look at it from one angle, they don't appear to be too tall.

But when I tried them on, I realized I'd stepped into a different dimension. First off, my head was at a higher elevation than it had ever been. I might possibly have to duck through doorways now. I'll certainly be the first to detect rain or snow fall.

The main issue, of course, is the walking. In other words, will I be able to walk and not look like one of those new born calves with the wobbly legs? Or a deer who can't get her footing on the smooth floors of a high school? The jury is still out.

One thing that concerns me is that when I walk, my ankles make a strange click. Is this supposed to happen? Will it eventually go away? Or is it the sign that with continued high heel use, my feet will eventually need to be amputated? At the very least, the clicking is mildly uncomfortable.

But the shoes are fabulous. And if I can learn to walk in them, and suffer the strange ankle clicking, it will be totally worth it.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

On Being a True Fan

We don't have cable. We don't have Dish. We do have a digital converter box and rabbit ears and $90 extra in the bank every month. Since we don't watch a lot of TV, it's a sweet deal.

But today we wanted to watch some football. With our digital converter box and the rabbit ears, our TV gets about 3 channels and the Ducks were playing the Huskies on one of those channels. Life was good.

We ate nachos for lunch and watched the kick-off. Did I mention, life was good?

Then the TV started acting funny. The reception was going in and out, the audio and video were stopping and starting and we turned on the radio so we could hear what was going on. It looked like we were going from 3 working channels to 2.

Robert went out to the garage during a commercial to work on something and came back in. Suddenly, the reception improved. "Don't move!" I said. "Stay right there. The reception is really good when you are right there." And it was. For a few seconds.

"Maybe if I do this?" Robert suggested as he raised his arms out to the side. "Maybe you should come over here and see if it makes a difference."

I went to the fridge to get some water and the picture momentarily cleared up when I opened and closed the door. So I stood, opening and closing the door so we could see if the Ducks kicked for the extra point or went for 2. They went for 2!

"It seems to be best when you are in the garage," I pointed out to Robert, who was standing around the corner, peeking into the room so the TV wouldn't know he was there. "Maybe you should just stay in the garage," I joked.

The TV reception continued to fluctuate and Robert and I continued to reposition ourselves around the room in hopes of appeasing the digital television gods. We were marginally effective. Or not. It's possible our movements had nothing to do with the reception, but it felt good to think we wielded some sort of control over the situation.

During half time, Robert adjusted the roof antenna. I stayed in the house and reported on the reception quality over the phone while Robert stood outside on a ladder. "Better. Worse. We just lost the picture completely! Oh, better now."

Finally, we had the best reception ever. The game was coming in clear as a bell. There were no hurky jerky stops and starts. We could hear what the commentators were saying and what the penalties were for.

By that time the Ducks were so far ahead though, so I decided to call my mom and chat instead of watch the rest of the game.

Just like a true fan.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Dress Story


Confession time: I sometimes buy clothing from Fred Meyer.

Because sometimes when I walk by the clothing section, something pops out either because it's a screaming good deal, or super cute, or both. And it's strange to think that at Fred Meyer, the store where I do 98% of my grocery shopping and home and garden shopping, that I would also do my clothing shopping. But sometimes, I do.

Just so you know, when ever I've purchased a piece of clothing from Fred Meyer, I've always had compliments. And when I share my secret of where I bought the item, friends are always shocked. Or maybe they are just acting that way.

Anyway, the dress.

I saw the dress out of the corner of my eye as I was wheeling my cart over to the toothpaste section. I wasn't planning on buying clothes, let alone a fancy dress. I just saw it. I went to investigate and found out that the dress was on sale. Originally $58, it had been marked down to $38. And it wasn't too short. And it had sleeves. And a cute ribbon tie at the waist (I know it's hard to see in the picture...sorry). I would have been a fool to pass it up.

I took the dress home without paying for it. But before I get into that mess, I first need to tell you that when I got home I decided I needed a new pair of shoes to go with it. So I ordered a pair of black suede heels from Zappos.com. Then I figured jewelry would be a swell addition, so I ordered a lovely necklace. All justified, of course, because of the screaming deal I got on the dress.

Just how screaming that deal was, I had no idea.

Later, I was admiring the dress and I noticed that the bulky plastic security tag had been left inside the dress. I was a little ticked at the thought of having to return to Fred Meyer to get the tag taken out, but when I remembered I go to Fred Meyer about 3 times a week, I figured it wasn't too much trouble. I retrieved my receipt and scanned it to make sure it was the right one. It was the right one. There was no question it was the right receipt. The problem was, the dress was not on the receipt.

I never paid for the dress. I'd taken it through the check out line and reminded the cashier to scan it. I didn't want to put it on the conveyor belt with my raw meat and suspiciously drippy milk containers, so I'd kept it in the cart. She looked at the dress, but never scanned the tag.

Today when I went back to explain the mix up and get my security tag removed, the customer service gal was so grateful. Because I was honest. She mentioned there was a 15% off coupon for apparel and said she wished she could give me a bigger discount.

I did too, but $32 is a pretty good price for a dress. Maybe enough to justify a cute sweater to go with it?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

On Organization

One of my children has a birthday in March. He's had his guest list made out since August. Yesterday he pulled out that guest list, which, I might add, he knew exactly where to find, and went over the names of invitees to make necessary changes (a couple new friends have been made and one moved away). He then began to make another list. A list of things we would need for the party. The Harry Potter party.

15 boy gift bags
3 girl gift bags
18 wands
18 ring pops
18 pencils
1 cake

Did I mention his birthday is in March?

Another child is not so organized. He doesn't write things down. He doesn't put things away. He has trouble finding things not only because he can't remember where he put them, but also because he has no idea how to look for them. Really. No idea. If it's not 2 inches in front of his face, it might as well be on Mars. He does his homework, but doesn't turn it in because he either left it at home or lost it somewhere else. He loses coats, lunch boxes, water bottles and bike lock keys. His bedroom is a disaster.

His parent teacher conference was not very positive. His lack of organization is affecting his grades and everything else he does.

After getting this feedback, I came home and ordered Organizing the Disorganized Child from Amazon. It may just be the first of many books I read on the subject, but I'm determined to figure out how to help my kid. It has become clear that his brain is taking a different path from A to B that mine is. I have to figure out what that path is so I can walk it with him and help him learn how to organize.

Darn you underdeveloped frontal lobe!!!

The book outlines 3 different organizational styles with a list of behavioral traits to determine which style your child fits into: visual, spatial and chronological. Ethan didn't seem to fit into any one category. There were things I identified with him in each category. But the thing that really got me confused was that each list contained a similar statement: My child feels disorganized when their work area is...

I don't believe my child feels disorganized. I feel like he is oblivious to any kind disorder around him other than when he is looking for something and can't find it. He doesn't care that he lives and sleeps in squalor; that there is a Twix bar wrapper with a bit of caramel stuck to his pillow case, or that he's put wet clothes into his laundry basket 4 days ago and something is starting to smell, or that his floor is covered with dirty socks, Legos, Nerf darts and weeks of school papers, some of which are important, others which are not.

I know he doesn't like the consequences of his disorganization, but I'm pretty sure he is not making the connection that being organized would get rid of those consequences. Because if he was making that connection, wouldn't he try to be organized? How hard can it be to put your bike key in your backpack? Or your candy wrapper in your garbage can? Or your assignments in your student planner?

I just don't understand.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

DIY Halloween

The theme for this Halloween was DIY. When the kids wanted to carve pumpkins, I said, "Do it yourself." When they wanted to get costumes, I said, "Do it yourself." When they wanted to make real, homemade taffy on Sunday night, I said, "Do it yourself." And when they wanted to open the door to the trick or treaters and hand out candy, I said, "Do it yourself."

And they did!

The pumpkins were scooped and carved. I don't know how well the job was done, but it was good enough. I gave the boys safety tools and laid out big plastic garbage bags and they went to work. Except Ethan had to wear latex gloves and ended up having Jonah help him so he didn't have to get his hands dirty.

The big bin of costumes upstairs was pulled out (not by me) and rifled through until costumes of days gone by were pulled out and tried on and adjusted and used.

I showed Ethan where the candy thermometer was and he made taffy. Although I did end up pulling most of it, and cutting it into bits and wrapping with with waxed paper. It turned out great. Just like taffy at the beach, except we only had one flavor: peppermint.

Isaac and Jonah took turns opening the door and handing out candy. I didn't see one trick or treater all night. It was surprisingly enjoyable.

And thanks to a vigilant Sunday School teacher who showed the kids, "It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown" in church, Ethan came up with the great idea to hand out rocks along with candy to some of his friends. Most people I told this to were confused and alarmed. "Tricks!" I reminded them. "Don't forget it's tricks OR treat."

And no, we didn't get toilet papered later on.

There are no pictures to post of the DIY Halloween because I was too busy being lazy and none of the kids thought to get the camera out. I did worry that maybe I was too lazy about this seemingly important holiday. I've been reassured, however, that lazy moms make self-reliant kids.

I would finish this post with a rallying cry to lazy moms everywhere who are in reality doing their kids a huge service, but that just seems to go against the lazy mom modus operandi. So instead, I'm going upstairs to read a book.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

On Gifts

Centre Block, Ottowa

I listen to the Vinyl Cafe podcast. Each show is recorded in a different Canadian City and host Stuart McLean starts by talking about that city in a way that makes me want to move to Canada. He can make a remote airport in the middle of Newfoundland and Labrador sound like the most fascinating place on the planet. That is until you hear him tell about Winnipeg. OK, kidding. Winnipeg really doesn't sound fascinating at all, but Stuart can at least make me appreciate it.

In last week's podcast, Stuart was in Ottawa, Ontario, the capitol of Canada. Stuart told about the Parliament building there in Ottawa. Specifically, the part of the complex called the Centre Block. In 1916 this structure burned to the ground. Somehow, word of this tragedy reached the other side of the world, in New Zealand.

To show their support and concern, the government of New Zealand sent wood to help Canada rebuild. Stuart pointed out that if you've ever been to Canada (and please pronounce that as "bean" to Canada) you probably know that wood is one thing they've got plenty of.

Yet New Zealand sent wood.

And those who received the wood in Ottawa used it to build a beautiful table for 12. I'm only guessing it's beautiful because I have not seen an actual photo of it, but I do know it resides in a place called "The New Zealand Room" in Ottawa's parliamentary library.

I listened to Stuart tell the story of how New Zealand sent Canada wood as I was doing my daily walk for exercise. I don't think there were too many people around to hear me shout, "YES!" as I came to understand the beauty of New Zealand's gesture and Canada's grace at receiving it. For me, it is the epitome of gift giving and receiving.

The gift was not something that was needed. Canada didn't request it. It was a gesture of love, kindness and goodwill, freely given. It sent the message, "We are thinking of you and we want to help you. We want you to be happy." It was a humble gift, but represented a sacrifice nonetheless.

Canada could have used that wood to rebuild part of the structure, relegating it to anonymity. Instead, they featured it in a piece of furniture that stands as a public thank you to New Zealand forever.

It's a lovely story.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

How to Be A Boy: Collecting Things


If you are a boy, you must have lots of collections.

If you see something on the ground, or in the garbage that looks interesting, pick it up. This will be the start of a collection. A sticky Popsicle stick? Great! A beer bottle cap? Super! The feather from a bird that was recently consumed by a cat? Make sure you show it off at dinner tonight!

Rocks are great things to collect because they are everywhere. Especially if your neighbor just ordered a load of river rock to use in their landscaping project. No need to inspect the rocks for unique features or particular beauty; just pick them up and stuff them in your pockets. Your mom will find them when she does the laundry.

If you happen to live in an area where air soft pellet guns are used, you are in luck. When the shooters have gone home, comb the area for a treasure trove of little, plastic, colored balls. Carry the pellets home in your hands or pockets and put them in your sock drawer for safe keeping. Or, just leave them in your pockets and let your mom find them when she does the laundry.

Other things you might consider for collecting: marbles, foreign coins (but not domestic coins because you will want to use those for buying candy), bouncy balls, Pez dispensers, Pokemon cards, paper airplanes, pop tops, tin cans, aluminum cans, plastic water bottles, broken glass, sticks, dried leaves, Bakugan, tin foil, sports trophies, sea shells, beach sand, driftwood, Silly Bandz, rubber bands, Webkinz and comic books.

You can organize your collection in one of your mother's canning jars, or a washed out mayonnaise jar. A better option though: just keep your collections in your pockets and let your mom find them when she does the laundry.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Thoughts on Time Management

It's 7:11 am on Saturday morning.

I'm not sure why I'm awake, but I am. It's not such a bad thing. Everyone is asleep and I've already had a good hour of quiet time doing a little research on line (back to the comic book art questions) and enjoying a little writerly advice from Laini Taylor. And then I looked outside.

It was just before dawn and the sky had lightened enough that any scary things on the walking path to the Pirate Park would surely be gone. I could get out for a little exercise. I went to get a few extra warm things to put on because it seems to be a bit nippy this morning. But while fishing around the sock drawer in my darkened bedroom, I realized I am not going outside to exercise at all.

At least not right now.

It's Saturday. I can go for a walk any ding dang time I want. Why waste this blissful morning of alone time by leaving the house?

Sometimes I can be so smart.

So this morning, I'm going to wait until everyone wakes up and starts demanding things, like food and attention and heaven help me, rides to Game Stop, and that is when I'll leave for my walk.

That's time management people.

Monday, October 11, 2010

First Lines Revealed

Just so you know, I'm not promising to read the most popular first line book first. In fact, one of these books is going back to the library today or tomorrow, unread, because I just don't have time to read it and it's due tomorrow. I have too many books and too little time. Sad, isn't it?

Many of these books I requested after reading a list of dystopian books that may fill my Mockingjay void once I'd finished that series. Others are books that were listed by Betsy Bird as having Newbery potential. And one of them was lent to me by my neighbor and I'm in no hurry to read it. Because she doesn't charge late fees, but also because...

It was #10

Escape by Carolyn Jessop, the story of one woman's escape from an FLDS polygamous compound with her 8 children. I actually started reading this one but took a break to read other things. It kind of creeped me out.

Here are the other books which I don't have enough time to even explain, so I'll let Amazon do the explaining for me.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

More First Lines

I have a stack of books to read that I've checked out from the library. If you had to choose which one to read based on the first line, which would you choose?

1. The steady chug of the diesel engine drew closer, and eventually the salvage boat emerged from the mist, a blank grey shape steering a middle course between ghostly lines of chimney stacks that rose from the water.

2. Summer Goodman never knew what hit her.

3. Mom, Dad--if you're listening--you know I said I was going to the South Lakeland Outdoor Activity Center with the school?

4. My name is Kathy H.

5. I don't remember any of the true, important parts, but there's this dream I have.

6. In the dim hovel, the mother clenched her body into one final, straining push, and the baby slithered out into Gaia's ready hands.

7. Wait a minute.

8. Jake Kincaid was known as the dowser.

9. It's only half an hour since someone--Robyn I think--said we should write everything down, and it's only twenty-nine minutes I've had everyone crowded around me gazing at the blank page and yelling ideas and advice.

10. Escape.

Friday, October 8, 2010

How to Be a Boy: Riding Your Bike to School

When you ride your bike to school, you have to have a lock to keep it from getting stolen. So bring a lock with you, and don't forget the key. Don't put the key on any kind of key chain, just throw it in your backpack. I'm sure it will be there when you need it.

When, after two weeks of riding your bike to school, you lose your key, call your mom to come pick you up and get the spare key from that drawer in your dad's dresser that holds spare change, spare business cards, spare parts, spare wristwatches and spare keys.

Listen to the lecture from your mom about using a key chain, always keeping your key in the same place, and being responsible. Say NO when she asks, "do we need to put it on a string around your neck?"

After 2 more weeks, lose the spare key.

Bonus - How to Be a Mom: Lecturing Your Son Who Lost his Last Bike Lock Key

"Well, I guess that's it. I knew we shouldn't have bought you such a nice bike. Why can't you be responsible? Didn't you have a key chain on that key? Didn't you put the key in the same place in your backpack every day? I knew I should have made you wear it on a string around your neck. I guess your bike will have to stay at school forever now. And it's supposed to rain this weekend. I think it's starting to rain now."

Extra Bonus - How to be a Dad: Cutting A U-Lock From Your Son's Bike

Check with co-workers who will tell you about the Bic Pen trick. Look it up on YouTube. Come home and find a Bic Pen and spend 15 minutes trying to pry the end off. Drive over to the school with the Bic Pen.

Come back home, have dinner, then google how to really get a u-lock off a bike. Go to Home Depot. Purchase a converter kit for your drill that makes it into an angle grinder for $8. Go back to the school and try and cut the lock off the bike with the angle grinder and your cordless drill. When the drill battery dies, go back to Home Depot. Purchase a power converter that hooks up to the car battery to power your corded drill for $80. Go back to the school in the dark and cut off the lock.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Turning Points

Today was filled with not one, but several turning points. It started when I returned the milk bottles from my attempt at being a locavore to Whole Foods.

My First Time at Whole Foods
The milk man carries no cash, so he could not pick up my milk bottles and give my back my $2 deposit for each one. I was instructed to return them to Whole Foods. I'd never been to Whole Foods and wasn't entirely sure where the nearest one was located. I'd once heard Whole Foods referred to as "Whole Paycheck" so I was pretty sure it wasn't a store for me. When I arrived at Whole Foods I realized that I hadn't put my contact lenses in this morning and that it wasn't my sunglasses that were dirty, it was my eyes that couldn't see very well. So I squinted my way around this lovely but blurry store and picked up a few items I needed for dinner. I had a hard time finding the bread, but after a couple loops around the store, located the crusty, artisan loaves. Mmm. I think I'll be back to Whole Foods in the future, even though I'm NOT a locavore anymore. I just need to see what the place looks like in focus.

The Game On! Scores Came in...
...and I realized my team was probably not going to win. Unless one annoyingly perfect dieter would mess up at Disneyland next week, our chances were nil. But we are all winners, right?

I Learned A New Mac Thing
Shh. Don't tell anyone. I'm still learning how to use my MacBook. I've been wanting to organize some of my bookmarks and also my documents folder. Thank you Angela for teaching me how to create new folders. Sometimes things are so easy, they're hard.

My First Critique Group!
Oh my, here we go again. I may be jumping into something that is completely out of my league. I've been invited to join a critique group for middle grade writers. We will submit 10 pages to each other and make suggestions and comments and then return the documents with feedback. FYI, all the other writers are currently submitting their work for publication. Novels. Real stuff. But, if my recent foray into risk taking has taught me anything, it's that you don't work towards your goals by not taking risks. (Unless your goal is to never take a risk. Hmm. Apparently, I have to work on my sage wisdom.)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Mind the Gap

Jeggings are not a product of The Gap

My suggestion for induction into fashion's Hall of Shame: Jeggings. Not familiar with Jeggings? They are leggings that look like jeans. They are made of lycra or spandex or some unidentifiable material that fell from space. They look good on .1% of the population, but the other 99.9% will be the ones to wear them.

See, the problem with last seasons hot newcomer to the jean scene, Skinny Jeans, is they left too much to the imagination (i.e. how could anyone be sure a skinny-jean-wearer really had knees and ankles.) The other problem with skinny jeans, of course, is that not everyone was able to get them buttoned.

Not a problem with Jeggings--no buttons required.

I ran into my first Jeggings today when I went to the mall. I was kind of excited because I went down a size in pants. (Yay Game On!) Please understand, I have no illusions that this new pant size is one I will be able to maintain long term. However, it's only the second time since I was 16 that I've been this size, so I thought a new pair of jeans was deserved. Even if I only fit into them for 3 weeks.

I passed the Jeggings and went to The Gap to take advantage of their "tall" sized jeans. If' I'm going to spend $70 on a new pair of jeans I will only fit into for 3 weeks, they better not be floods. The Gap had this new sizing with strange numbers and I couldn't understand what I was looking at, so I got some help from an employee.

Boy was she helpful. She kept calling me honey and steered me away from the straight legged jeans, which is what I wanted, to the Long and Lean jeans, which give the wearer the illusion of being long and lean. (Did I not look long and lean enough already? Really. My legs are freakishly long, I don't need any help making them look longer.) I tried them on in a size SMALLER than what I wore in high school. I was not fooled by The Gap's "vanity sizing." Like a smaller number will make me feel more lean? (It did.)

Next up, the Sexy Boot jean. The helpful gal shoved 3 different sizes in my arms and a couple more pairs of Long and Lean. I tried to steer her over to the Straight jeans, but she would have none of it. "Lift up your shirt" she said so she could get a look at my waist. "Now turn around." She actually said I had no butt. "I can't sell you these jeans unless I get a good look at them on," she said.

The jeans fit fine, although they were too flared at the bottom (I wanted Straight cut jeans!), but the hips and thighs were about as tight as could be. It was like they were sprayed on. Like they were Jeggings! One cookie and these pants would no longer fit me.

"That's exactly how they are supposed to fit," she said. "If I were you, I' would buy these pants, and I'm not saying that because I work on commission. I would buy these pants and take them home and sit down and watch a movie and just see how comfortable they are. I guarantee you, you will be back next week to buy two more pair."

I just want a pair of pants that have a little room. I may be the same size I was when I was 16 (in pants, not taking into account that what once was my 16 year old size has now been vanity sized down) but I don't want to look like I'm trying to be a 16 year old. No offense to 16 year-olds.

I got two t-shirts instead.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Bizarro Portland

The Patagonian Toothfish

Tonight at dinner, one of the boys wondered where we would be if we were in the exact opposite of Portland, Oregon. We had guessed that it might be somewhere near South Africa, maybe even Madagascar. So we got the globe and found that 45 degrees S, 51 degrees E put us in the middle of the Southern Indian Ocean. Luckily there was an island in the general vicinity called Crozet and the little (Fr.) next to the name told me it was French!

How exciting! We googled.

Crozet Island is seriously in the middle of nowhere, but it's claimed by France for crying out loud. Naturally, I pictured rugged beauty set off by 5 star resorts and fine dining. Instead, I found that Crozet Island has 300 days of rain a year and that it is so windy no trees can grow. (Winds exceed 60 mph over 100 days a year.) There are no inhabitants of Crozet Island other than a few researchers and scientists. But, it has the largest bird population of any place on earth.

Even though it's remote, fur trappers and fishermen found their way to Crozet. It is said Sealers could kill up to 60 seals an hour and the fisherman's overfishing seriously threatened the Patagonian Toothfish (pictured above.)

I am a little disappointed that the global opposite of Portland isn't a bit more exciting.

That the fish are so ugly is just insult to injury.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Two-Bite Watermelon


While most of the country was having the hottest summer on record, here in Portland, we were having the coldest summer in 17 years. Back in April, I planted melons hoping that the summer would be warm enough for them to grow. It wasn't.

My tomatoes also suffered. It was the perfect temperature to inspire the green leaves and vines to grow, but the tomatoes are just now starting to come on. Unfortunately, my huge tomato bush has toppled over despite my staking and the use of a heavy duty tomato cage (now reduced to a ball of twisted metal thanks to the monstrous plant). The tomatoes that are finally ripening are doing so under cover and I often don't find them until it's too late and they've already gone bad.

Green beans should have been a slam dunk, but they weren't. And it was totally my fault. I was the daughter of a seed salesman. Seeds were a big part of our family. From a young age, I planted seeds, worked with seeds, packaged seeds and even harvested seeds. So it was natural for me to want to save my Blue Lake green bean seeds year after year. I was saving maybe $2 on a packet of seed, but was pretty proud of my self-sufficiency.

It was my understanding that open pollinated or non-hybridized seeds, like Blue Lake green beans could have seed saved and used from year. What I learned this year, unfortunately, was that every few years, you have to bring back the new seed. Maybe Blue Lakes are a hybrid variety of green bean--I don't know. But the beans I got this year from my saved seed (which was from the previous years saved seed, which was from the previous years saved seed, etc.) were awful: fibrous, tough and completely unpalatable. The whole crop was lost.

So I didn't make any salsa fresca this year. I didn't freeze a year's worth of green beans. I didn't harvest any melons--well, not any that were edible anyway. Sometimes that's just the way it goes. Which is why I think being a farmer for a living must be the most stressful job ever.

Good thing the grocery store is right down the street.